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EU meets commitments, says EU representative in Cyprus
2002-08-27 11:31:44

By Maria Myles-- Nicosia, Aug 27 (CNA) -- The European Union has been consistent with meeting its commitments and decisions and is set to follow this pattern in the future too, head of the European Commission delegation to Cyprus Ambassador Donato Chiarini believes.

In an interview with CNA prior to his departure from the island, he said Cyprus is part of a configuration of applicant countries and will not be treated separately from them when it comes to accession.

He also said the EU has played a catalytic role in giving Cyprus its rightful play in Europe and in helping the UN peace effort to reunite the country, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

With regard to Turkey's ties with Brussels, he said the EU has made it its established position to always encourage Ankara to be more forthcoming on Cyprus.|

"The EU has not only brought Cyprus on the way to accession but it has also been the catalytic element to give Cyprus its place within European family and make possible the unification of the island," Chiarini said, adding that this is a very important conjuncture for the Republic.

Asked if the EU December summit in Copenhagen will invite Cyprus to join with other candidate countries, he noted that it is too early to say anything concrete but pointed out that until now the EU has taken commitments and abided by them perhaps with last minute compromises.

The EU, he said, keeps to its schedule as far as enlargement is concerned and there are no slippages when it comes to realizing its decisions.

"In Nice member states decided on the enlargement timetable and the overall prospective of enlargement is based on these commitments," he said.

Replying to questions about possible obstacles that may hamper the island's accession, he said that "Cyprus is a part of a configuration, part of a group of countries, all of them of high strategic interest to the EU."

"I do not see Cyprus being dealt separately or independently from the group," he added.

On the possibility of agreeing to some derogations from EU rules and regulations, Ambassador Chiarini told CNA that what is essential in the established philosophy of the EU is that they are "temporary derogations."

Cyprus, like other candidate countries as well as current EU member states, will probably have to come to some special arrangements on specific issues of particular concern to Brussels and Cyprus.

Asked to comment on Turkish threats to react strongly to Cyprus' membership, if there is no political settlement, he said at this stage there is little that can be said because one has to wait and see what the outcome of November's general elections in Turkey will be.

The Ambassador did however note that EU-Turkey cooperation on political subjects has been growing very well and yielded results, and a lot of work has been done in terms of rapprochement between the two sides.

Asked if this rapprochement has a positive fallout on Cyprus, he replied "there is not a single event when Turkey is not encouraged to be more forthcoming on Cyprus, this has become a EU established position."

Commenting on the prospect of the UN-led peace talks, he said these are "very intense negotiations, very difficult with very strong negotiators and before you get results you have a lot of ups and downs."

However, the trend is there, and there is a total convergence of views among EU members to get the Cyprus problem resolved and support the work of the UN, he said.

Replying to questions, he said the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides to the talks are "very serious" about finding an agreed settlement.

There is a momentum, intensity and commitment and the solution will have to come up, he added.

On a more personal level, the Ambassador said he leaves Cyprus after more than four years with the conviction that the country is " a small but thriving island, has plenty of human resources and great potential."

"Cypriots, Greek and Turkish, will be a very active member in the EU, they are tenacious and inventive, and the EU will benefit a lot, Cypriots may be bringing more than what they will be taking from the EU," he said.

Ambassador Chiarini leaves next week to take up a post in Skopje.

CNA MM/MK/2002

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